Introduction, Design Features
Even if you’ve never listened of Alienware’s computers before (and if not, acquire behind from your spin outing to Alpha Centauri), you’d have to assume, from a name alone, that they’d demeanour a bit opposite than your normal PC.
That’s been loyal of scarcely any Alienware we remember reviewing, and generally so with a 2017-refreshed Alienware 15 R3, that customarily beamed onto a doorstep. You can configure this 15.6-inch beastie from an $1,199 bottom model, all a approach adult to $3,399, depending on how we bucket it out. That far-reaching cost operation creates it a viable aspirant to customarily about any 15.6-inch gaming cover we can buy.
Indeed, a marketplace for 15.6-inch gaming notebooks is a hotbed of activity, even if it’s not utterly as jam-packed with foe as a one for 17.3-inchers, that is white-hot. Our Alienware 15 R3 exam territory came configured with a discerning 120Hz arrangement ancillary Nvidia G-Sync, an Intel Core i7-7700HQ “Kaby Lake” quad-core processor, a mobile 8GB chronicle of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070Gigabyte P35XAcer Predator 15MSI GT62VR Dominator Pro, to name just a few.
For a cost comparison, we mock-configured these laptops to compare a Alienware 15 R3 as closely as possible. The Gigabyte P35X ran about $100 less, yet it had half a SSD space, while a MSI GT62VR Dominator Pro was lower-priced still, during $1,799, as was a Acer Predator 15. (Those machines also had half a SSD storage space of a Alienware tester unit.) However, that’s not to contend a Alienware 15 R3 lacks for additional value. It has a few tricks in a sci-fi-style case, many particularly a special 120Hz display, imagination AlienFX LED lighting system, and some of a best pier connectivity and build peculiarity that we’ve seen from a gaming cover this size.
The Alienware 15 R3 is also wholly configurable from a factory, distinct all of a competitors we mentioned here. Finally, it can be bending adult to a custom-matched outmost graphics fortitude around the Alienware Graphics Amplifier, that could extend a gaming lifespan of a cover utterly a bit. Let’s take a closer look.
Mistaking a LED-riddled and alien-infused extraneous of a Alienware 15 R3 for anything yet an Alienware is kind of like mistaking a family sedan for a Corvette. It customarily doesn’t happen.
The Alienware 15 R3 looks any bit like an enlargement of a company’s past notebooks, and in a certain way. The pattern thesis has grown over a years; we cruise a backlit “Alienware” content underneath a arrangement gives it a high-end look, and a lid behind is some-more superb than earlier, curvier designs.
It can take a jump of faith to like a alien-head trademark on a behind of a lid and on a energy button, yet they’re small. The backlighting behind both of them can be incited off, origination them reduction noticeable.
The true and squared-off edges on many a Alienware 15 R3’s extraneous advise a secrecy aircraft. The extending behind exhaust-vent territory looks generally menacing. That tab creates a abyss of this cover a whopping 12 inches, from front to back, that is customarily as vast as a Acer Predator 15. It’s roughly 2 inches deeper than a customary non-gaming 15.6-inch notebook, as well. The 15.3-inch breadth is a small excessive, yet a unchanging 1-inch density is respectably skinny for a kind of laptop this is.
The weight of this savage starts during 7.7 pounds; a exam territory weighed in during 7.81 pounds. That additional weight is substantially from a incomparable 99-watt-hour battery in a model; a customary battery is smaller, during 68 watt-hours.
Picking adult a Alienware 15 R3 gives we a feeling it’s over-engineered. “Super-solid” is a customarily approach to report it. The lead lid and bottom panel, that are both dim silver, feel cold and rigid. The framework is all yet inflexible. The surfaces that go around a keyboard don’t give one bit when dire down on them, either. The lid’s hinges are unbending adequate to forestall arrangement wobble, yet they still concede for one-handed opening. We favourite a soft-touch surfaces on a exterior, too.
The AlienFX lighting complement is, literally, one of a highlights of this notebook. You can spin it totally off, if we want, by dire a Fn and F12 keyboard shortcut, yet if we do that, you’ll be blank a show. There are 12 sum lighting zones, any away configurable with opposite colors and patterns.
The Basic mode in a pre-installed AlienFX program allows we to change a colors, while a Advanced mode lets we request layered effects, such as colors that morph…
Alienware enclosed many pre-set themes, including a “Sunrise” one that gradually altered a lighting effects opposite a cover to simulate, well, we guessed it. A discerning hunt online for AlienFX themes found a series of community-run Web sites that common themes. You can emanate and store as many as we want, that isn’t always a given.
Beyond customarily looking pretty, AlienFX can be functional. The program allows we to set adult events that change a lights, such as an incoming mail message. AlienFX also integrates with an endless list of games to uncover in-game events or statuses.
We cruise a AlienFX lighting is fantastically good done. This underline gives a Alienware 15 R3 a ability to now change a coming in a approach that suits your preferences. No other cover we know of has a lighting complement this extensive. On competing notebooks that have any form of customizable lighting (which is a brief list to start with), it’s customarily customarily a ability to spin on and off a few teenager areas. Needless to say, a Alienware 15 R3 is in a category of a possess in this regard. All it’s blank is a per-key RGB LED keyboard, like a one on a Aorus X7 v6, yet a Alienware’s four-zone keyboard backlighting is modernized enough. Remember, AlienFX is customary even on a bottom $1,199 model.
We’re not wholly unhappy with a miss of a series pad on this machine. Without one, a categorical keyboard area is centered within a chassis, with copiousness of room to fit a mainstay of full-size dedicated gaming macro keys down a left edge…
Software for macro creation, dubbed “AlienTactX,” comes pre-installed. The editor is basic; of course, you can record keystrokes, and a delays between them. On a 5 permitted macro keys, 3 profiles can be stored on each, giving we a sum of 15 probable macros permitted during any given time around these shortcuts. You can import and trade profiles, yet it would have been good to have customarily a list of profiles that we can bucket yet carrying to crop for a file. To switch between installed profiles, simply press a tip pivotal on a macro-key column. The column’s keys conveniently change tone to prove a stream profile.
The keyboard itself has a gratifyingly customary layout. The arrow-key cluster is divorced out, with tighten to full-size keys, yet it doesn’t tip a Acer Predator 15 in this regard. Dedicated Home and End keys reside during a tip right, while a Page Up and Page Down keys hover a up-arrow key. Media-shortcut pivotal combos are permitted within a function-key quarrel (F1 by F12) by dire a Fn pivotal in conjunction. The Fn and F6 combo disables a Windows key, while Fn and F12 turns off a AlienFX extraneous lighting.
One pointed shade is that a space bar is shorter than expected. Its left side extends customarily median into a C key, instead of all a approach to a left corner of that key. We beheld this while personification normal first-person shooters that use a WASD pivotal cluster for movement. If we strech to strike a space bar with your left thumb, we competence find yourself attack a space bar and left-Alt keys. We were means to adjust to this simply enough.
The 2.2mm of pivotal transport on this keyboard allows for smooth, beguiling feedback. The rock-solid keyboard support deck, and a slight cushioning during a bottom of a keystroke, serve extended a altogether feel. We also appreciated a fact that a keys were uncannily quiet. Moreover, a anti-glare finish on a keys supposing copiousness of grip.
The AlienFX keyboard backlighting control is integrated into a AlienFX software. The categorical keyboard is divided up evenly into 4 straight zones, while a macro-key mainstay is a fifth zone. Each section can be altered to a possess color, or incited off entirely. As we remarkable earlier, it can also be set in Advanced mode to morph between colors, or to beget other patterns.
The lighting peculiarity looked good to us, with all black on the keys being backlit, and kindly resplendent around a edges of a keys for finish prominence in a dark. There’s adequate luminance for daytime visibility, as well.
Thanks to a keyboard not carrying a series pad, a hold pad is also positioned dead-center in a palm rest. On notebooks with series pads, a hold pad is customarily homogeneous to a left and lined adult with a space bar, preventing your palms from touching a hold pad’s aspect while typing. We enjoyed a hold pad’s pleasing anti-glare surface, and appreciated a well-defined edges. The dual soft-touch buttons have an glorious feel, and a still clicking action. It looks, overall, rather typical for a hold pad, during slightest until we indeed touch it. The aspect illuminates as AlienFX lighting section No. 8 when we do, and it stays illuminated for a integrate of seconds after we stop touching it. The aspect can be any tone we wish around a AlienFX software.
Dell/Alienware offers 3 arrangement choices on a Alienware 15 R3. The bottom arrangement is a full-HD IPS quarrel with far-reaching observation angles and a 1080p local fortitude (1,920×1,080 pixels). It also has an anti-glare surface. A 4K (3,840×2,160-pixel) quarrel is also an option, serve with far-reaching observation angles. The one on a Alienware 15 R3 examination territory is a third choice, and yet doubt a best one for gaming. It has a 1080p fortitude like a bottom panel, yet a 120Hz modernise rate. This means adult to 120 frames per second (fps) can be displayed yet tearing, as against to customarily 60fps for a 60Hz modernise rate in a bottom 1080p panel.
The aloft quarrel modernise rate creates a disproportion when we supply a Alienware 15 R3 with a GeForce GTX 1070 graphics chip, as a tester was sent. This label is means of churning out good above 60fps normal in today’s games. The 120Hz panel, moreover, supports Nvidia G-Sync, to boldly synchronize a fps outlay of a GPU with a screen’s modernise rate. In essence, you’ll need to deposit in a pricey, gaming-specific desktop guard if we wish a smoother gaming knowledge than what this quarrel offers.
The premonition with a 120Hz quarrel on a Alienware 15 R3 is that it has singular observation angles. It looks excellent from side-to-side, yet we can see a colors upset and rinse out if we lean a arrangement too distant back. This isn’t a vital regard for gamers, as they’ll be looking during a arrangement head-on in scarcely any circumstance, and they’ll be a customarily ones looking many of a time. We did like a fact a Alienware 15 R3’s arrangement can be slanted behind 180 degrees from closed. But if, perchance, you’d be regulating this as both a gaming and a presentation-giving laptop, you’ll wish one of a other dual panels.
Despite a singular observation angles, a arrangement on a examination territory had sharp-witted colors and superb brightness. Dell rates a luminance during 400 nits, that is about one-third aloft than what we would routinely cruise a splendid arrangement on a notebook. The anti-glare aspect is effective during gripping reflections to a minimum.
Port welfare is one of a standout aspects of a Alienware 15 R3. Not customarily does this cover have a good accumulation of ports, yet it also places them in essential locations. On a left edge, you’ll find a headphone/microphone multiple jack, a dedicated microphone jack, a USB Type-A 3.0 port, and a trimmer USB Type-C 3.0 port. A thermal opening and Noble-style cable-lockdown nick are serve to a left, and AlienFX lighting section No. 9 runs underneath a bottom (the illuminated stripe).
The right corner binds a USB Type-A 3.0 port, another thermal empty vent, and AlienFX lighting section No. 10.
The rest of a ports are located, notably, along a behind corner of a chassis. We contend “notably” since it is a trend on complicated notebooks to place ports on a sides. We suspect it eventually comes down to preference, yet we can see a evidence for back-mounted ports on a cover this size. On thin-and-light notebooks that are approaching to be used in cramped spaces, such as on aeroplane trays and on laps, side-mounted ports are easier to see and reach. But with incomparable notebooks that will spend many of their operative lives atop a list or table, carrying a ports on a behind of a framework keeps anything plugged in behind there out of sight.
Besides a thermal vents flanking possibly side, a behind corner of a Alienware 15 R3 binds a Killer E2500 Gigabit Ethernet jack, a mini-DisplayPort connector, an HDMI 2.0 video-out, a USB Type-C pier with Thunderbolt 3 support, a Alienware Graphics Amplifier port, and a AC energy jack…
The one repudiation on a Alienware 15 R3 is a SD label reader. USB-based ones are inexpensive enough, yet zero beats one that’s built-in.
The speakers are along a front corner of a chassis. We found a volume of sound they could put out was impressive, yet a altogether sound peculiarity was subpar. Distortion fast crept in as we increasing a volume past 50 percent. The mid-tones sounded oppressive and recessed, and a drum was unimpressive.
The headset jack on a left side of a framework is a good choice to regulating a speakers. It was static-free. The volume of energy it supposing seemed roughly excessive; we found 25 percent volume with a sealed headphones was adequate to max them out. We had to set a volume to 60 percent on an Apple iPhone 6 to strike an homogeneous spin of volume.
Internally, a Alienware 15 R3 offers a choice between a Killer 1435 and a Killer 1535 wireless card, with a examination territory carrying a latter. The 1535 label is advertised to have improved range, yet we didn’t exam this. Both cards support roughly matching technologies, including a latest 802.11ac wireless standard. Bluetooth 4.1 wireless is also customary on a Alienware 15 R3.
The Alienware 15 R3 houses a span of cameras above a display. One of them is a normal Webcam. We weren’t too tender with that, as it had normal recording quality, and customarily a 720p/30fps resolution. It should work excellent for infrequent video chat.
The other camera is an infrared (IR) model, that is customary equipment. This allows a Alienware 15 R3 to support Windows Hello facial approval in Windows 10, origination it one of a few gaming notebooks we’ve seen with built-in biometric capability. The IR camera similarly supports Tobii eye-tracking technology—to an extent.
The pre-installed Tobii program has settings that concede we to control some of a Alienware 15 R3’s function simply with your eyes; a IR camera is means to detect your eyes. For example, if we get adult and leave your computer, a IR camera will clarity that, and spin off a computer’s shade and AlienFX lighting system. When we lay behind down during a mechanism and demeanour during a tip of a screen, a Tobii underline automatically turns all behind on within a few seconds. What it does is user-configurable, and of course, a eye-tracker can be totally disabled.
Note that a Alienware 15 R3 doesn’t support Tobii eye-tracking in games, however, a focus for that a Tobii record has typically been flogged. For that, we need to step adult to a bigger Alienware 17, that has a full Tobii eye-tracker hardware and program built-in.
As we tapped out this review, Alienware 15 R3 configurations on Dell’s Web site ranged in cost from $1,199, all a approach adult to an commanding $3,399. The bottom indication offers an Intel Core i5-7300HQ quad-core processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB graphics card, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB tough drive. Those specs are a tad poor for that price, by a measure; we can get that volume of opening for reduction than 4 total with a Lenovo Legion Y520, as good as in Dell’s possess Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (7567). Neither cover packs a high-end underline set of a Alienware 15 R3, though, nor includes as good of a display.
The $1,499 pattern we saw on a site, to a eyes, looked like a best altogether value. It bumps adult a bottom model’s specs to a Core i7-7700HQ CPU and GeForce GTX 1060 6GB graphics, doubles a RAM to 16GB, and adds a 128GB SSD.
The $2,274 of a examination territory serve bumped adult a specs: a GeForce GTX 1070 8GB GPU (the fastest offering in a Alienware 15 R3), along with a incomparable 512GB SSD, and, of course, a 120Hz 1080p display. As we mentioned earlier, a battery is also larger, during 99Wh, contra 68Wh in a lower-end models. The rest of a underline set is mostly a same. The IR camera with Windows Hello biometric support is enclosed even in a bottom model, as is a AlienFX lighting.
The Alienware 15 R3 supports a limit of 32GB of memory around a dual DIMM slots. We’d like to see 4 slots in a cover this size, yet it’s tough to make an evidence for “needing” some-more than what this cover offers. Our examination territory had a gentle 16GB of RAM in a two-8GB DIMM configuration, using in dual-channel model. It was of amiable seductiveness that a RAM ran during DDR4-2666 speeds, since we typically see DDR4-2400. You won’t feel a disproportion with a faster RAM in day-to-day usage, yet additional speed never hurts.
The plenty storage enlargement is a and on a Alienware 15 R3. Inside a framework are dual M.2 Type-2280 slots and a singular Type-2240 container for SSDs, and a normal 2.5-inch expostulate bay. One of a M.2 Type-2280 slots was assigned by a 512GB Samsung PCI Express-bus expostulate in a examination unit, while a 1TB, 7,200rpm tough expostulate presided over a 2.5-inch bay.
GPU overclocking isn’t offering on a Alienware 15 R3. This is in contrariety to a Acer Predator 15, that does support overclocking from a factory. Our knowledge says bureau overclocking customarily formula in customarily teenager opening gains, during best, yet it’s improved than not carrying any.
Getting during a internals in this cover is straightforward. Removing a 7 Phillips-head screws underneath a framework allows a whole one-piece bottom quarrel to come off…
Here we can see a populated M.2 Type-2280 container during a tip right, and a other M.2 Type-2280 and a M.2 Type-2240 container next and to a right. The dual DIMM slots for memory and a 2.5-inch expostulate on a left side are elementary to access. Putting a bottom cover behind on requires finesse, as a pointed front of a cover creates it tough to get all a clips adult there secured. Take your time.
As we can see in a print above, dual fans are on possibly side of a chassis. Most of a empty atmosphere escapes by vents in a rear, yet some also goes by smaller openings out a sides of a chassis. We favourite how, solely while gaming or using really perfectionist tasks, a Alienware 15 R3’s fans stayed off, or ran so sensitively that we didn’t notice them.
If you’re gaming with a Alienware 15 R3 in a place where still matters, you’re approaching to attract a few glances in your direction. (That’s not to contend people won’t give we a peek or two, anyway, a approach a Alienware 15 R3 looks.) We remarkable some not-ignorable fan bemoan during a tip fan speeds, adding to a sound of atmosphere rushing quickly through a cooling vents. The sound carries opposite a medium-size room. While gaming, we suspicion this cover was noticeably louder than a competing MSI GT62VR Dominator Pro, as good as a Acer Predator 15. The Gigabyte P35X v6 competence have been a small louder still.
We found a altogether sound spin of a Alienware 15 R3 to be excusable for a gaming notebook, relations to others we’ve tested. It’s not shrill to a indicate where headphones won’t assistance (we’ve positively tested machines like that before), yet it won’t be ignorable in many situations. That’s, again, presumption you’re gaming. The fans on this cover are differently well-behaved.
While gaming, a tip of a framework became toastier than we expected, peaking during 112 degrees F during a tip right, above a keyboard. The core of a keyboard reached 109 degrees F, while a palm rest area stayed in a low-80-degree F range. The underside of a framework appearance during 109 degrees F in a center, yet it totalled underneath 100 degrees F everywhere else. The cover wasn’t worried to use; a cosmetic surfaces felt cooler than they were.
The inner member temperatures were all over a charts. On one hand, a GeForce GTX 1070 GPU reached customarily 70 degrees C, and that’s roughly cold for a high-performance cover GPU. In a Gigabyte P35X v6, we celebrated a same GPU reaching 91 degrees C. However, a Core i7-7700HQ CPU in a Alienware 15 R3 tester reached 91 degrees C, not that distant next a chip’s limit rated handling temperature. The Alienware 15 R3 is distant from a initial cover we’ve seen with a CPU that runs this hot; a Acer Predator 15 and Predator 17 also come to mind. We beheld no CPU-related opening problems with a Alienware 15 R3, yet that doesn’t stop us from wishing for a small reduction heat.